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homeland- In a shocking report, the American network “CNN” said that drug confiscation in Saudi Arabia has reached a record level, which reflects what experts say that Saudi Arabia has turned into a drug capital.
The report said that the Kingdom’s growing role as a drug capital in the Middle East comes due to the increase in demand on the one hand and its transformation into the main destination for smugglers from Syria and Lebanon on the other.
The report indicated that the Saudi media recently raised the alarm about the high rates of drug abuse, as one commentator described drug shipments to the Kingdom as “an open war on us, more dangerous than any other war.”
The report indicated that the Saudi authorities announced, on Wednesday, the seizure of the largest illegal drug seizure in the country’s history, after concealing nearly 47 million amphetamine pills in a shipment of flour confiscated in a warehouse in the capital, Riyadh.
According to the report, the record seizure illustrates what experts say is Saudi Arabia’s growing role as the drug capital of the Middle East, which has led to increased demand and has become the main destination for smugglers from Syria and Lebanon.
Saudi Arabia is one of the largest regional drug destinations
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According to experts, the Kingdom is one of the largest and most profitable regional destinations for drugs, noting that this situation is getting more acute.
Wednesday’s operation was the largest single drug smuggling attempt, according to the General Directorate of Narcotics Control, and while the authorities did not mention the name of the drug seized or its Source, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said earlier that “reports related to amphetamine seizures from Countries in the Middle East still often refer to tablets bearing the Captagon logo.”
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According to the “CNN” report, the numbers of Captagon drugs in Saudi Arabia and around the region have grown over time, noting that earlier this week, a US Coast Guard boat confiscated 320 kilograms of amphetamine tablets and nearly 3,000 kilograms of hashish worth millions of dollars From a fishing boat in the Gulf of Oman.
The report said that the drug has been spreading in the kingdom for about 15 years, but has spread so intensely in the past five years, that it “may have become on par with cannabis,” according to Vanda Philbab Brown, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, who wrote on the subject.
Flood supply from Syria
The report stressed that one of the reasons for the spread of Captagon is “the presence of a supply flood that mostly comes from Syria,” where it is produced “on an industrial scale in chemical plants inherited from the regime.” [الأسد]It is supplied by warlords and regime cronies.
According to the report, Captagon can be sold for between $10 and $25 per pill, which means that the last Saudi quantity, if it is the same drug, is worth up to $1.1 billion, based on figures from the International Addiction Review.
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The spread of Captagon among expatriate workers
“These same traits of Captagon have been sought by foreign workers in wealthy Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, which are seen as an important factor in the development of the drug,” said Caroline Rose, a senior analyst at the New Lines Institute in Washington, DC who has studied the Captagon trade. It helps to do the work.”
According to the report, amphetamines are popular among Saudi youth, as a 2021 study in the Journal of Crime, Law and Social Change quoted one user as saying: “Captagon is small. My schoolmates and I like it more than cannabis. Not like Hashi.”
Eating Captagon is a recreational activity among young people
“In more affluent consumer markets, real estate has a different appeal, serving as a leisure activity among a growing young population that despite social reforms … is bored amid widespread youth unemployment and a lack of opportunities to engage in recreational activities,” Rose said. . “Some consumers justify Captagon as a less taboo substance, compared to ‘harder’ drugs like opiates and cocaine.”
Philbab Brown said that since many young people in Saudi Arabia use drugs out of boredom and a lack of social opportunities, the increased freedoms that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has introduced could help reduce some of this use.
In her interview with CNN, she added: “The important thing is not restricting freedoms, nor turning concerts into places for trawling and raids, but rather educating young people.”
The high prevalence of rehabilitation centers in Saudi Arabia
The report pointed out that over the past few years, a number of drug rehabilitation centers appeared throughout the kingdom after the government began licensing private institutions.
About four or five have been opened in the past two years, says Khaled Al-Mashari, CEO of Qaim, one of the first centers to open. This is evidence of the government’s recognition of the importance of rehabilitation, he says, but it also shows that the problem is on the rise.
He told CNN, “We’re on a huge hike, unfortunately.” “But at least people now have a choice, rather than having to go to neighboring countries to seek treatment.”
And while there are rehab centers, Rose says there are few public health messages or campaigns to raise awareness about Captagon.
“While these taboos regarding drug consumption in the kingdom are not going anywhere, the government’s inclination to exclusively scrutinize the issue and downplay its role as a destination market will be hard to ignore,” she said.
In this context, Philbab Brown said drug policies in the Middle East focused on the most severe reactions.
She said, “Unlike large parts of the world [التي] Moving away from such rigid, often ineffective or counterproductive policies, the Middle East has often doubled its punishment.” “Jailing users is ineffective and counterproductive.”